How I Used My Privilege: Bussing to Canada

On a whim and perhaps a desire to escape responsibility, I decided to take the bus up to Toronto for a daytrip. A thirteen hour ride each way for about eight hours of wandering. Perhaps it was a whimsical idea, but I did not realize the extent to which one might view my wandering.

After about ten hours on the bus, we finally arrived at the border and had to disembark in order to pass through immigration. It seemed simple enough and I had flown enough times without difficulty at the borders and so I did not think twice about it. When the lady called me up, she looked at my passport and asked me where I was from.

“Idaho Falls, but I live in Washington…I am a student.”

Next was her inquiry as to why I was here.

“Day trip.”

She gave me a quizzical look and then the storm of questioning.

“That’s over twelve hours by bus…Why are you coming back so soon? Are you alone? Do you have a job? How did you pay for this? How much money do you have on you?”

I’ll admit the truth was unusual: I was coming back early to dog sit. Yes, I am alone. No, not really. Christmas money.

She then proceeded to search me and my bag.

Of course my bag was filled with an assortment of oddities. Wild Thorns, Un Secret, A traveler’s guide to Farsi, my Nikon, my wallet, a variety of pills (legal, though).

I must have looked suspicious, but eventually she threw her hands up and grumbled “have fun.” Because in the end, what harm could a twenty year-old white American female do?

Coming back, I wondered if I were Canadian would I have been able to enter the United States. Our bus driver’s advice was to have a passport, bus ticket and a really good reason available for those entering the United States. On the return bus, I was the only American and so I watched everyone passing in front of me go through intense questioning and fingerprinting. The questioning multiplied for those who were not clearly white Canadians. I, on the other hand, received casual banter while the guard scanned my passport and waved me along to the bag scanner.

I once read that the other countries had increased heckling travelers in response to the immigration policies of the United States and to a degree, I do not blame them, but I have come to find that security often includes racial profiling on everyone’s side.

Regardless, I made it through.

Here are some photos of Casa Loma, bascially the Hearst castle of Toronto. This how Sir Henry Mill Pellatt used his privilege: